Argentina seeks US backing

ARGENTINA - Argentina's government has begun crucial financial talks in Washington, as forecasts show the economy is set to contract sharply this year despite the devaluation of the peso.

Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf met White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, explaining the country's grim situation and the new government's hopes for financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Horst Koehler, managing